Tuesday, October 28, 2008

a sucker for starbucks

I was sitting in the starbucks at dupont circle this morning at a quarter to 8 a.m. i was sitting in the starbucks on wisconsin avenue in georgetown this evening at a quarter to 8 p.m. thats right, i've turned into one of those weirdo coffee junkies that walks in the door of the commercial starbucks every 12 hours.

except, i don't even drink coffee. and normally i'm running late and haven't even left my house at 7:45 a.m.

i had to be downtown extra early this morning and getting out of bed at 6 a.m. was so worth it, to sit with my chai tea gathering my thoughts and looking at dupont circle and the interesting people that frequent it.

tonight i went to the starbucks two blocks from my house and found that it closes at 7:30 p.m. i just wanted some hot tea and a place without distraction to work on my bible study. so i walked a few more blocks in the wind (its 40 degrees here, whew) and entered the next starbucks.

Yep, there's one on every corner, its true. I avoided the coffee altogether, and loved my time at starbucks both this morning and tonight. God is so good to me, for so many more reasons than providing me with warm coffee shops playing music.

in between my sbux indulgences, i had a pretty comical afternoon.

I went for a long walk on C&O canal after i got home from work - bundled up with my scarf, hat, fleece, leggings, mittens, it was a little ridiculous. I'm enjoying the cool weather and looking at the Potomac, when a high school girls cross country team comes sprinting past me. I could see a girl grimacing and talking with her coach as I approached. I figured he was criticizing her for being slow or something, but then, the coach says:

"I told you to stop if its your hip that's hurting. You know not to run on that hip. We'll just have to ice it down and rest tomorrow."

And the girl kind of nods, grimacing more in pain and clearly hating that she was fighting an injury. I, on the other hand, had to put my fingers in my ears and try not to listen to the coach.

"No, no, this is not what I need to hear! I need a coach telling me its all in my head, get over it, suck it up..."

Don't worry, it gets better. The JV team passed me about 15 minutes later on the trail, sprinting and talking at the same time. Fine. On my right at exactly the same time, there were three kayakers, the kind that kayak in a lunge position in super slim boats and it requires a ton of strength. Here I am thinking I'm out for a five mile walk, being healthy, and then... these people all show up and make me feel like an idiot.

I hadn't checked my gmail all day, so i come home to find several hilarious emails, one from caitin about an article regarding a guy looking for love in the district. and one from my uncle that he's stealing my dog.

Then, i was heating up some soup in the microwave, and after 1 minute in the microwave...

the bowl labeled microwave safe exploded. i'm not kidding you. its not even my bowl, its a roommates, its the normal fired-pottery bowl you'd buy at target or pottery barn.

and part of it just exploded right there in the microwave. awesome.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

when you give an empty nester a dog...

This is Tres, the new eight-week old member of the Robinson family. I went home last weekend to meet the little rascal, and have tons of cute pics that haven't been uploaded yet.
Most of you know that Sam, the most wonderful golden retriever there ever was, died in June. I know he was only a dog, but sometimes I still expect him to be there when I come home from DC for a weekend. Tres is in no way a replacement, but he has already brought a lot of joy and fun into my parents' lives. I know two things about Sam - he would want us to have another bundle of fur in the family if he couldn't be around forever to be our friend, and he would want us to be sure and love that next bundle of fur just a little less then we loved Sam, our pookies.
A lot of articles are written about dogs, and pets in general. What they can do to lower your bloodpressure, how they can bring comapionship to single people or elderly people, how they can make your heart happy, bring relief to sick patients, etc.
I haven't seen a lot of news coverage lately on what happens when you give an empty nester a puppy. Let me tell you.
Tres is precious, absolutely wonderful, very furry and cuddly as all golden retriever puppies tend to be. But he is also incredibly rambunctious, full of barracuda-like teeth, and starving for attention. When I came down the steps to the baggage area in the Houston airport, I immediately saw both of my parents - with the ten pounds of yellow hair - waiting for me. "He's soooo cute!" I exclaimed as I picked him up. He was so docile in the airport, just letting me love on him... and then in the car he attempted to attack my scarf, my skirt, my arms, my watch, the seatbelt, my hair, and then proceeded to collapse on the seat next to me snoring. He's so nice when he's sleeping...
In two weeks, my parents have become quite attached to Tres. I don't think my mom let him out of her sight the first week they had him, everytime I was on the phone, there he was, in the background barking or chewing on something. On Saturday my parents and I went to grab lunch, so I was walking down the hall carrying Tres to his "room" and my dad said "Wait, wait let me just tell him goodbye! Wait!"
That was when I officially knew: Houston, we have a problem. They had warned me that he was an ankle biter. Well. That was quite the understatement. He runs at your ankles and grabs on for dear life as you cross the room. He would stop for me because I would pick him up or swat him lightly on the nose or grab his atention with a toy. Not my parents though. They simply watch him while yelping in pain, thinking he's so cute and they couldn't possibly tell him no.
Tres is an explorer. During playtime outside, I would put him the fern bushes and he would burrow into them. He shakes them with his teeth, and then he stops to look at them, but they're still moving from his shaking. He thinks this moving is a sign that they are actually alive and fighting with him, so he then barks and attacks the plants again, starting the whole cycle over. Finally he will tunnel out of the flowerbeds and collapse on the grass. I took him on a walk one of the mornings when it was still early enough to have dew on the grass. Tres thinks that every yard is giant doggy slip in slide built just for him- he will prance along on the sidewalk beside you, and then he leaps off, running for a few feet and then throwing all four legs out so that he slides on his tummy through the grass for a few more feet, then stops and rolls over on his back, all feet in the air. He is impossible not to love.
The empty nesters of course have bought the dog a new bed at Costco that he never uses. I say never because he sleeps in the bed with them. which is totally ridiculous because when he's huge and takes up half the bed like same used to, he won't know that he has to get down eventually.
Saturday night my mom and i kicked my dad to my brothers room for the night and watched chick flicks late into the night. i had worn the little dog out all afternoon and night because i just can't NOT play with him, i mean come on people, he is cute! exhausted, he was very snugglyand peaceful all night. until around 6 am. when i woke up to find him playing tug-of-war. WITH MY HAIR. growling and running the in other direction on the bed, as if my hair would come unattached from my head easily. so cute, yea, uh huh.
when you give empty nesters a puppy, they think you should let it in and outside at anytime the puppy would like. after all, the empty nesters think that the puppy is in charge, because "he's so cute" and "he'll only be little for a while" and therefore he should be the king of the place.
well, i don't enjoy cleaning up presents from the puppy, however cute he is, so i put him outside from time to time. for a while he will fight with the plants, sniff around the fountain, and then he wants to come inside. well, unlike most dogs who politely whine and sit at the door waiting, he will claw at the door, jump for the door knob, and then he gives up. well, you think he is giving up. actually, he is just running away from the door to get a running start to body slam the door. he literally, all ten pounds of him, runs at the three full length windows and leans in with his shoulder to bodyslam the window. not so much that he hurts himself, he's still smiling at you through the window, but just enough that you notice him.
the empty nesters think its hilarious. they race to the door and let him in. "oh, he's like a butterfly flying against the glass..." my dad has been heard saying.
the empty nesters haven't completly lost their minds. they've just lost a little bit of their control... i mean the puppy is really cute. but not cute enough that you just let him bite the heck out of you and chase you around the house growling at you and clinging to your pant legs and sliding along beside you... maybe they have lost their minds.
but at least the empty nesters are having fun.
for a minute there, i was worried they were going to just sit around for the rest of their lives and do nothing... not.
tres, see you at thanksgiving!! i already miss the biting...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

just five more miles...

all photos courtesy of eugenia t. thompson. my kkg sister for life.

There's a chance you may have heard the story of the time my friend Caitlin & I decided it would be a brilliant idea - and an easy adventure - to ride our bikes together to Mount Vernon, where George Washington lived and is now buried with his dear Martha. The 38 miles round-trip were extremely difficult, full of sweat and strained muscles, but lots of laughs. I like to alteast think that the difficulty was in part due to our bicycles - they are "cruisers" not meant for speed or endurance. (much like myself.)
Well, you'll probably think I'm crazy when I tell you about how this past Saturday I rode roughly 30 miles with 3 other friends in the opposite direction outside of DC. If you have a moment, I'll tell you the tale... Genie Thompson and Lauren Simpson came to visit my roommate Katherine for Colombus Day weekend here in this district. I was lucky enough for them to let me follow them around for most of the festivities. (Dinner at a gay sports bar on Friday night-that's a whole different story.) They all were close friends growing up in Memorial. And - Genie is my "big" - big sister in kappa from TCU. She is absolutely one of the top five funniest real people I know in the WORLD and she's currently teaching middle school in Houston.
Lauren I didn't know as well (before this weekend) but we also went to high school together. I remember two things about her: 1) we had a few math classes together and i hardly got any work done because she, like genie, is very entertaining and 2) she was obsessed with LSU. apparently not much has changed...
So, Dr.Katherine, Lauren, and Eugenia and I went to safeway saturday morning for gatorade/picnic grub. We then headed down to the potomac river where the 3 of them rented bikes and I got on my craigslist deal of the century bike. i call her "eleanor." We took a quick picture, the four of us and our bikes, and decided we must send it in to the Kappa Kappa Gamma alumni magazine - we're 4 kappas from 4 different schools! we're sure to get in...:)
We rode for about 30 minutes when Katherine, being the smart med student that she is, realized we were on the wrong trail. I uttered a four letter word, we told Genie and Lauren, and we turned around. The six mile detour wasn't that bad and we were quickly back on the correct path - gravel "towpath" along the C&O canal that parallels the Potomac river. We thought we had about 10 miles to reach our destination: Great Falls! (Good sized waterfalls on the Potomac north of DC.) Seriously my abs have never hurt so much from laughing. By the time we reached the falls, my cheeks hurt from constant laughter. (no, not those cheeks, get your mind out of the gutter.)
After being on the trail for a few miles, Lauren was ready to turn around. "I'm sorry, I'm not
trying to whine, but this suuuucks. How much farther?" We pulled over for some water and quick break. When I asked an older couple walking by how much farther, the man said "ONWARD!" and pointed his hand in the direction we were headed. Yea, but how far? He told us about five miles, and seemed to know what he was talking about. Then we rode for 45 minutes and had been at least five miles. We asked the next sane looking person. "Five more miles," they said. We trudged on. After 2 hours total on the canal path, we asked a third passerby. Of course their answer was... "Five more miles!" Lauren's reaction was priceless.
The view was beatiful, tall trees leaning over the canal, no cars or city noise. Red leaves, orange leaves, the crunch of gravel under our tires, the occasional view of the Potomac to our left. When I tried to point this out to Lauren, she responded. "oh, yea, gorgeous. Breathtaking. I could be seeing stuff like this on TV right now."
At one point we stopped for Genie to trade bikes with Katherine - Genie's bike seat was pointed towards the sky in a very uncomfortable and unadjustable position. As we were getting back on, Lauren was like, "Okay, once we make it to the falls, i am NOT kidding you, i'm taking a cab back. or calling a helicopter." and Genie said "I'll just pray for some angels to come flap their wings and carry you back." Lauren: " They better be some big freaking angels. And you better start to pray now." So Katherine, smiling, starts to pedal off in the lead. Then Genie starts off, yelling, "I will pray. I will pray to Jesus. JESUS! JESUS! We need your help." And then she began to sing the Lord's Prayer Opera style. (she has a beautiful voice.) Next came Lauren, grunting and yelling and singing in a not-so-nice voice "God Bless America" at the top of her lungs. I brought up the rear, trying so hard not to fall off my bike from laughing so hard.
Eventually, we made it. The views were great. The falls were awesome. Sitting on a rock by the river eating lunch was awesome. Seeing Menonites was awesome. The ride back was awesome - including a lecture from a national parksman about how we had crossed over the orange caution tape where they were repairing the trail and put ourselves "in very real, very serious, danger. you could have died." lauren later said, "don't worry man, i will NEVER do this again."
apparently long bike rides are good for my abs - i laugh ALOT. these three were hilarious. katherine calmly directing us onward, genie providing lots of "oooh, my leg!" and "oooh, lord jesus" outbursts, and lauren saying "i don't hate you, i just hate my body. this sucks. i hate this." and at the end saying "well, that was fun. lets' go home." then we went home and collapsed on the couches. eventually we made it to the showers and out to capitol hill for dinner, drinks, and some LSU football. (they lost, but lauren was too exhausted to be really mad.) fall leaves and good friends - probably one of the funniest and most beautiful days i've spent in this district!
thanks for reading and hope your day is full of laughs, too!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Into Marvelous Light I'm Running

this photo is stephanie and i in the hill country, summer 2007. i heart her.

Gosh, I'm blessed. Not a day goes by that I can't see the evidence of God's blessings in my life. And, I know, that I still take so many things for granted. Like health, the roof over my head, good friends.

Tonight I had the most random group of friends over for dinner - girls I met through friend's of a friend's, former roommates from PPIP last semester, current roommates that i went to high school with and now love, former fellow interns/staffers from white house days. How funny that last April I had a mini-meltdown after agreeing to stay in DC for the remainder of 2008, thinking I would be so lonely and alone. Instead, I am immensely blessed and have learned the value of quality friendships, not quantity. (And I've also learned that if you offer dinner, they will come...)

In sixth grade I was such a loser, never asked to sit at the cool kids table, made fun of for my "miss piggy" nose. My freshman year of college I felt alone and like a misfit alot of the time. I've moved thousands of miles from home and many moments of desperately missing wonderful friends back home.

All this to say, I hope that I live my days reaching out to as many people as possible, not who are exactly like me or who i would be drawn to necessarily. It means so much to me when people are nice to me and are great friends to me. (ie the wonderful kkgs at tamu who let me in on their 1/2 birthday celebrations at IHOP, or katherine mcclellan taking me to church in dc, or numerouos other people and instances.)

Nancy Simpson and Susie Gold were mentors of mine through a small group at my high school. (mustangs for life.) They were friends to so many young girls and brought so much joy to our lives on Thursday mornings. I miss them bunches. Nancy said on numerous occasions that if you go through life and can count the number of true, great friends on one hand, you are truly blessed. To think of that, and to think of all the true, loyal, great, fun friends that have really known me and not run the other way screaming... wow. What a incredible, joyful blessing!

"to the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." -unknown

i fall short so many times to be do what God so simply commands of us - "love your neighbor as yourself." i need to strive on a daily basis to do for others what i do for myself. i'm so thankful for all the people have loved me as they love themselves. so thankful.

and thanks especially to all of you who read this crazy thing!! seriously. i know you have about 1000 other things to do with your time and i appreciate you.

"into marvelous light i'm running,
out of darkness, out of shame.
by the cross you are the truth, you are the light, you are the way.

lift my hands and spin around
see the light that i have found
oh the marvelous light, the marvelous light
sin has lost its power, death has lost its sting
from the grave you've risen...victoriously!
into marvelous light i'm running..."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bring Your A Game (better is one day in your courts)

Better is one day in your courts, better is one day in your house, than a thousand elsewhere.

As good as life is for us down here on earth, time in the presence of God is promised to be thousands of times better. Literally, thousands. Something I can’t even grasp and something we’re not designed to understand. If we understood God’s plan, God’s will, God’s thoughts, then faith would not be something difficult. We wouldn’t grow, we wouldn’t learn things about God. He wouldn’t be a wonderful mystery and we wouldn’t be drawn to get to know him. Just as the couple who learns something new about each other after years of marriage, our relationship with God is designed to be ever-evolving, and if we knew everything up front about how life worked than we wouldn’t have to -or get the chance - to live life.

Our friend Jay Chenoweth is in Heaven. It’s so hard to sum up Jay in a sentence, but for those of you who don’t know him, he and my dad grew up together, my mom met him and his wife more than 25 years ago, and we’ve gone on numerous ski trips and new years eve trips during the past decade. If I could hand-pick my in-laws, it would be mary and jay for sure. (cathy & jim have always been off the table because they don’t have sons.) 8 years ago, jay and I started calling each other homie. (it has to do with jay watching mtv. Story for another day.)

For some reason, God decided that it was time for Jay to leave our world. Jay had been fighting cancer for a while now, bravely, courageously. So weird to type that he’s gone. I can’t dwell on it or I’ll just throw this computer right out the freaking window. I know homie is dancing in heaven, praising god and playing golf with the disciples and doing whatever we all do when we arrive at the thrown of the King. I know that God completely planned this, and that good will come out of everything God does. But I’m still hurt, confused, and stunned. More so for others than for me. Homie has a younger brother and older brother, wonderful friends, his rockstar wife Mary, and two fun sons John and William who I really consider brothers, or at the very least cousins. He was only 45? Why die now?

Homie was so fun. He skied like a mad man. He was HILARIOUS. I told my dad – I never would have told homie this to his face, it would have gone to his head too much – but I could make a list of all his qualities and if I found them in a guy, I’d marry him right there on the spot. He was faithful but not in your face about it, he was hilarious (did I mention that), he was loving and kind and gentle and so patient. Then when he lost his temper, he was, again, hilarious. He was full of adventure and life, planning a trip for our two families in RVs to Colorado. He was hardworking, generous, and so dedicated to his boys. His family was his life.

The quality I was inspired by most was homie’s devotion to mary. He was completely in love with her – if she was in sweats or a cocktail dress, if she was happy or grumpy, he loved her with his whole heart and was not afraid to show it in front of anyone.

Jay lived life to the fullest. Over a thousand people came to his memorial service, clearly showing how much he touched others lives, and how blessed he was during his 45 years on earth. I will be forever thankful for knowing Jay and getting the chance to be around him. I know I will hang out with john and William and mary for years and years to come, they can’t avoid the Robinson family. My plan from here on out is for all of us to pick up slack that homie has left us while he flew up to heaven: to live life on the edge, full of humor, love, and adventure – just as he did.

Homie always had one liners and sayings ready to fly out of his mouth. He always had hip music on his ipod, cooler than me for sure. Always knew at least a few of the latest rap songs. On several occasions I tried not to literally wet my pants during his antics with Mary, my dad, or anyone. One of my favorite memories is just me and him on the ski slopes in steamboat, I don’t know how we ended up just us the two on the lift, but the ski lift operator called him my dad. I quickly corrected them - “he is NOT my dad” and after that he would tell strangers he was my dad and be as awkward as possible – such as blowing his nose really loudly on the ski lift with strangers.

We’re all trying not to be sad around my house. Homie would want us to keep on living, honor his memory. It’s sometimes so surreal to me. Is he really gone? This is so weird. But I know something: what an inspiration that our lives are soooo short. I have new motto now that my homie’s gone up to the room that Jesus told us he was preparing for us: Bring your A game!

Ski fast, live life, love with abandon, give it your all. Jay gave his family his all, was hilarious with friends, I’m starting to repeat myself. I could go on forever.

I wish we’d had longer with him. I wish that more for Mary and the boys and his brothers and my dad and his countless other friends than I do for myself. I’ve certainly realized - this is one life. That’s all we get. It could end tomorrow. Seriously.

Better bring your A game.